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Manufacturing and the 2016 Election: An Analysis of US Presidential Election Data


  • Caroline Freund

    (Peterson Institute for International Economics)

  • Dario Sidhu

    (Peterson Institute for International Economics)


Much of the public discourse and media analysis of the surprise outcome of the 2016 US presidential election has emphasized the role of manufacturing workers. This paper examines the importance of manufacturing jobs and job loss as determinants of voting patterns using county-level voting data from recent presidential elections. The share of employment in the manufacturing sector and long-run manufacturing job loss at the county level are not statistically significant in explaining the change in Republican vote shares from 2012 to 2016, when controlling for standard voting determinants. However, the change in the Republican vote share is positively correlated with manufacturing in predominantly white counties and negatively correlated with manufacturing in ethnically diverse counties, with these effects roughly offsetting each other. The paper further shows that this polarization between white and nonwhite manufacturing counties is more closely associated with polarizing candidates than a polarized electorate.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline Freund & Dario Sidhu, 2017. "Manufacturing and the 2016 Election: An Analysis of US Presidential Election Data," Working Paper Series WP17-7, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp17-7

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    Cited by:

    1. Maoyong Fan & Anita Alves Pena, 0. "Decomposing US Political Ideology: Local Labor Market Polarization and Race in the 2016 Presidential Election," Journal of Economics, Race, and Policy, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-15.
    2. Karakas, Leyla D. & Mitra, Devashish, 2020. "Inequality, redistribution and the rise of outsider candidates," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 1-16.

    More about this item


    identity politics; job loss; voting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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